Are you ready to take your photography to the next level? It begins with the fundamentals of composition, but there are some simple techniques you can use to take better photos and turn ordinary images into extraordinary photographs. Discover seven tips to help you take better photos that you can put into practice today.
1. How To Compose Great Photos
Great photos start with great composition: how you frame the shot and where you position different elements within the scene. If you learn how to properly compose your photos, you’ll be well on your way to taking great pictures.
Photography is an art, so there are times when you just see the image and capture it based on feel. More often than not, however, selecting a subject and applying the Rule of Thirds principle will improve your photos. Rule of Thirds is where you position your subject or horizon off-center rather than in the middle of the frame.
Consider drawing attention to your subject with how you “frame” an image. That doesn’t mean creating a graphical frame around your photo with your favorite editing app. Rather, find something within the scene that you can surround your subject or focal point with. Place your subject within certain boundaries using anything and everything available to you. You can get really creative with this.
For example, you could use something in the foreground. It could be a doorway, a window, or a fence — or parts of any of these. It could be something from nature, like trees, including their limbs and leaves. You can even frame a portrait, having your subject use their hands, arms, even their legs if they’re flexible enough.
Creative framing provides a unique perspective. It also helps to focus the viewer’s attention where you want it to be — on your subject. It may take a bit of time to develop an eye for it, but soon you’ll see opportunities for framing just about everywhere you look.
2. Keep It Simple
There doesn’t necessarily have to be a lot going on in your photo to get a great image.
In fact, if you have a lot of negative space in your image, it will only serve to highlight the subject that much more.
Allow for some extra breathing room around your focal point and you will draw more attention to it.
3. Change Your Perspective
Sometimes, you may need to get into an awkward position to get a great photo. Go for it. The most obvious way to take a picture is from a standing position, holding the camera in front of you, at eye level. Sometimes that works just fine, but don’t be afraid to get creative with your angles.
If you want to transform your photography from ordinary to extraordinary, change your perspective. Choose a different vantage point when you compose a picture. Try shooting from a low angle with the focus on the foreground of the picture, for a blurry background. Or you can try the exact opposite.
Some other options are to look straight up at your subject. Of course, you can also get up high and look down at your subject, or shoot through an object like a fence or a prop, like a crystal ball. How about capturing a macro image? Now that’s a perspective few people get to see — the super close-up details of your subject.
Any one of these options provides a unique, interesting, and memorable perspective.
4. Add Depth To Your Images
Create a sense of depth with your photos by providing a three-dimensional feel. By using layers (including the foreground) and leading lines, you will draw the viewer into your image.
When you add something to the foreground of an image, as we discussed with perspective, it provides depth and leads the viewer into the picture. The foreground can draw your viewers to the subject or it can serve as the subject itself. Remember, your subject doesn’t always need to be in focus.
Another way to add depth is by using leading lines. Leading lines are all around us. They may or may not be actual lines. They’re the patterns within your image that draw the viewer to your subject. Look for natural leading lines in everything from a row of trees, a river, bridge, fence, or road.
5. Use The Sun To Create A Silhouette
Taking photos while facing the sun is typically not a good idea, but there’s a simple trick for getting great silhouette pictures while doing this. Silhouettes are where your subject is rendered as a dark or black outline against a brighter background. Little or no detail is captured within the subject’s shadowy form, and the focus of interest is usually a sharp, crisp edge around the subject.
Choose your subject and then position yourself so the sun is directly behind that subject or another object in the photo. Depending upon what your subject is, you can allow a bit of the sun to be visible. This creates a ray of light that shines into the frame. Move around to see if you prefer a silhouette or partial silhouette, with the sun in or out of the frame.
Another option, especially if your subject is a long way off, is to use an object in the foreground as a way to shield the sun.
In this cityscape image, the golden hour is underway with the sun appearing low in the sky. I captured a silhouette of the city skyline by blocking most of the sun with some leaves from a nearby tree.
6. Look For Reflections
Reflections are a great way to offer an interesting perspective on your subject. In fact, reflections can completely transform your image into a jaw-dropping masterpiece – you just need to train your eye to look for them.
Reflections can be found anywhere — in a puddle on a city street, a pristine lake, a pair of mirrored sunglasses, or in the window of a building. Reflections provide powerful and oftentimes intriguing views of otherwise ordinary subjects.
On a quiet weather day, a body of water like a lake, river, or pond provides a smooth, almost glassy appearance for a potentially stunning image. A windy day, on the other hand, can provide a more dramatic look, with choppy waves and swirls making any visible reflection look distorted, almost abstract.
With windows and glass, anything can happen and oftentimes it does, and this is especially true of windows in a building on a busy city street. In fact, there may be so much going on with moving vehicles and people that you don’t even notice all the action until later when you’re editing.
Glass can also serve as a mirror or prop, providing any number of different possibilities with how you shoot and edit your image.
7. Find Symmetry
Symmetry is defined as “the quality of being made up of exactly similar parts facing each other or around an axis.” You know symmetry when you see it, and it oftentimes stops you in your tracks.
Think of it like this: what’s on the left is the same as what’s on the right. Or what’s on the top is the same as what’s on the bottom.
To get a great symmetrical image, frame the shot to keep the vertical lines vertical and the horizontal lines horizontal. Look for symmetry in architecture as well as in nature. Try to get as close to a perfect capture as possible when you’re shooting, but be prepared to tweak it and apply the perfecting touches when you’re editing.
How To Take Better Photos: Conclusion
There are a wide variety of ways to take your photography to the next level and take better photos. It begins with the fundamentals, but you can apply some basic techniques that will greatly improve your ability to take better photos.
Start by using the Rule of Thirds, of course. Then try framing some of your shots to draw attention to your subject.
Don’t try to overcomplicate your photography – keep things simple to highlight your subject. Use different perspectives and vantage points to make your images more interesting and unique. Also, consider adding depth to your scene by including the foreground and leading lines that help draw viewers into your image.
Use the sun to your advantage by deliberately shooting towards it, creating silhouettes of people and places.
And finally, look for reflections in water and windows and watch for eye-catching symmetry in architecture and nature alike.
So, it’s not so hard to take better photos. Ordinary images can become extraordinary when you take the time to learn some new techniques. Spend a bit of time practicing them and before you know it, you’ll see these opportunities everywhere you look. Shooting them will become second nature and you’ll find you really can take better photos.
There are seven basic elements of photographic art: line, shape, form, texture, color, size, and depth.What are the tips for taking better photos? ›
- Invest in quality equipment.
- Pick your focal point.
- Use the rule of thirds.
- Change your angles.
- Pay attention to framing.
- Use ideal lighting.
- Use filters and settings.
- Take lots of shots.
- Look your subject in the eye.
- Use a plain background.
- Use flash outdoors.
- Move in close.
- Move it from the middle.
- Lock the focus.
- Know your flash's range.
- Watch the light.
- Balance. ...
- Contrast. ...
- Emphasis (or Dominance) ...
- Movement. ...
- Repetition (or Pattern) ...
- Hierarchy. ...
- Unity (and Harmony)
The golden ratio is a guide to where to place a subject (a tree, person, building, etc.) or element in a photo (like the horizon) where it will be most pleasing to the eye. That divine ratio is 1.618:1. The first recorded definition of the golden ratio came from Euclid in the 3rd Century BC.What is the key to taking good pictures? ›
Choose a Strong Focal Point
The focal point of a photo is the main point of interest. It could be anything from a tree, to a building, to a person (or their eyes). Finding a strong focal point is one of the fundamental steps of how to take professional photos.
- Get in close. Zoom decreases your photo quality, but your feet don't. ...
- Practice every day. ...
- Check for even lighting. ...
- Keep an eye out for composition. ...
- Keep your batteries charged. ...
- Plan out your depth of field. ...
- Watch for the golden hour. ...
- Stick to the rule of thirds.
The three variables that matter the most in photography are simple: light, subject, and composition.How do I make my pictures look good on my phone? ›
- Use gridlines to balance your shot. ...
- Set your camera's focus. ...
- Use HDR mode. ...
- Use natural light. ...
- Focus on one subject. ...
- Hold your phone still. ...
- Consider buying a mobile tripod. ...
- Embrace negative space.
The rule of thirds is a composition guideline that places your subject in the left or right third of an image, leaving the other two thirds more open. While there are other forms of composition, the rule of thirds generally leads to compelling and well-composed shots.
Place your phone on a steady surface when taking photos in low light or using Night mode. This allows the camera to open its shutter speed for longer by eliminating unwanted jerks and shakes from your hand. In turn, the sensor takes in more light, which should improve the final photo.How do I make my photos look professional? ›
So, a good way to make sure your photos look professional is to do some degree of editing on them. It doesn't need to be fancy, just a check of the white balance and exposure, noise reduction and sharpening, and adding a little contrast and saturation can do wonders for an image, particularly if you shoot in RAW.What are the five photography basics? ›
- Light. Light is the most fundamental element that all photographs need because it illuminates the scene or subject. ...
- Color. ...
- Moment. ...
- Composition. ...
- Photographer's Choice Of Distance To Their Subject.
The scope of this article is to give an introduction to the basics of the four elements of photography: light, color, composition, and subject.What are the 4 main types of photography? ›
- Lifestyle – Lifestyle photography is exactly what it says it is. ...
- Documentary – Documentary style photography is usually associated with a chronological series of events. ...
- Traditional or Posed – Traditional or posed photography is a common portrait style. ...
- Artistic –
Rule of thirds is the most popular form of composition. It divides the image into three equal parts vertically and horizontally. Your image is divided into nine equal segments by two vertical and two horizontal lines.What is the 3 4 rule in photography? ›
To understand and use the rule of thirds, simply break up an image into thirds both horizontally and vertically, as seen here. The four intersection points of these lines, and the four lines themselves, are where subjects, or strong compositional lines of a photograph, can be placed to create a strong, balanced image.What is Rule 11 in photography? ›
The basic rule is: "For astronomical photos of the Moon's surface, set aperture to f/11 and shutter speed to the [reciprocal of the] ISO film speed [or ISO setting]."Can I self teach myself photography? ›
Photography is a hobby you can absolutely teach yourself. Trial and error and frequent practice will help you along as you get comfortable with concepts like exposure, aperture, shutter speed, and more. The first step is buying a camera and a few accessories to use as you grow your skills.What makes a picture good quality? ›
High resolution images are pictures or photos where the media has higher concentrations of pixels or dots, resulting in better quality and clarity of the image – as it contains more detail. By contrast, images with lower resolutions tend to have fewer pixels or dots and thus less detail.
The Exposure Triangle comprises aperture, shutter speed, and ISO. These three camera and lens controls work together to regulate the amount of light that makes it to the light-sensitive surface (aperture and shutter speed) and the sensitivity of that surface (film or digital ISO).What are the three pillars of photos? ›
- ISO. In our previous blog post, we discussed lowering your camera's ISO for bright spring days. ...
- Shutter Speed. Shutter speed is the second pillar of photography. ...
- Aperture. Last but not least, we arrive at aperture: the final pillar of photography.
A camera has only one eye, so photography flattens images in a way that mirrors do not. Also, depending on the focal length and distance from the subject, the lens can create unflattering geometric distortions.What is the rule of 9 in photography? ›
The guideline proposes that an image should be imagined as divided into nine equal parts by two equally spaced horizontal lines and two equally spaced vertical lines, and that important compositional elements should be placed along these lines or their intersections.What is the golden triangle in photography? ›
We use Golden Triangle compositions to identify main subjects in food photography by using imaginary diagonal lines across the frame. The Golden Triangle consists of a diagonal line that goes from one corner to the opposite corner and two lines from the other two corners that meet that line at a 90-degree angle.What is the 1 500 rule in photography? ›
Term: Description: The 500-Rule states that to obtain a clear image of stars without trails, take the number 500 and divided it by the focal length to get your exposure time. For example, a 20 mm lens would call for an exposure of about 25 seconds and theoretically, still obtain the stars without trails.What is the best photo settings? ›
Keep ISO as low as possible (around 100) Use an aperture of f/4 or lower for portraits and f/11 for wide shots. Select the white balance preset or use a custom setting for the specific lighting conditions. Shoot in RAW photo format for better editing.What are the 7 rules of framing and composition? ›
- The Rule Of Thirds.
- Leading Lines.
- Leading and Head Room.
- Size Equals Power.
- Break the Rules.
Everything a photographer needs to think about can be boiled down to these seven elements: lines, textures, shapes, forms, patterns, colours, and spaces. Each provides a different dimension to a picture when used together.How do I organize 7 photos? ›
- Gather All of Your Files into One Location. ...
- Create a Folder Structure. ...
- Decide on a System and Rename Your Files. ...
- Check for Photo Duplicates. ...
- Cull Your Unwanted Photos. ...
- Convert Your Non-Digital Photographs. ...
- Use Dedicated Software to Manage Your Digital Photos. ...
- Use an External Hard Drive.
Photography Composition Rule #6: Make Use of Leading Lines
Basically, it refers to using natural lines or shapes to guide the eye towards your main subject. The key to this photo composition tip is to take a big-picture view of the scene you are shooting, and to spot the elements that you can use as leading lines.
The seven models involve the framing of situations, attributes, choices, actions, issues, re- sponsibility, and news.What is the 7 elements of design? ›
The elements of design are the fundamental aspects of any visual design which include shape, color, space, form, line, value, and texture.What is the key element of photography? ›
Light is the most important base element of any image. Always look for beautiful light because it will make the elements in the image look fabulous.Can I store photos in ziplock bags? ›
ZipLoc bags are indeed low-density polyethylene. The drawback is that they have an inner coating of Butylated Hydroxy Toluene which will damage the photographs if they are stored in there long term.How do I organize my 50 years of photos? ›
Start by sorting the photos chronologically. Any other sorting option is just too confusing and crazy-making. Think big picture by dividing first into two piles according to century. Next, sort each pile by decade—even if that requires a wild guess—and so on until you have them in general order.What are the 5 C's of editing? ›
Copyediting involves the "five Cs": making the article clear, correct, concise, comprehensible, and consistent.What are the 6 C's of editing? ›
The foundation of this philosophy is what I call the "6 C's": correctness, clarity, conciseness, consistency, commenting, and customization.How do I edit photos like a pro? ›
- Develop your unique style. Creating your own photo-editing style is more important than you might think. ...
- Pick a photo editor. ...
- Shoot in raw. ...
- Try HDR photography. ...
- Remove chromatic aberration. ...
- Adjust white balance. ...
- Adjust contrast. ...
- Make colours pop.